Deep down I think every woman thinks she is Betty Crocker. That with enough effort and just the right amount of coaxing, we can summon the Betty deep within to make guest appearances on holidays and special occasions. Sometimes our inner Betty shows up. And sometimes she sends a replacement.
Well I put in a special order last night with hopes that the old pro would surface. The plan: cook a special birthday dinner for new manfriend, and in the process, show him what a keeper I am! The results: I may need to highlight my talents outside the kitchen.
Prepping began yesterday during my lunch break. I traveled to the best butcher shop I could find knowing that a good meal starts with good meat. Upon the recommendation of my colleagues I headed to Schaub’s in Palo Alto with my childhood friend Brett in tow.
B: “What are you cooking?” he asked.
ME: “New York Steak with sauteed mushrooms and onions, mashed potatoes, green beans, zucchini and apple crisp a la mode.”
He nodded his head in approval. I smirked in response. This is going to be cake I thought. After paying the equivalent of my left ovary for the marbled masterpieces Brett stumped me with one question.
B: “How are you going to cook them?”
ME: “In a skillet.”
B: [His jaw drops. Eyes bulge. Coughs.] “You just bought the Caddy of all steaks and you aren’t going to grill it?”
ME:[Internally begin freaking out. I don’t even know how to turn on a grill. What if I burn my eyebrows off? Does my new manfriend even own a grill? Should I ask him to cook his own birthday steaks? Respond haughtily.] “I always cook steak in a skillet.”
B: “Not these steaks.”
While I wanted to prepare a stress free birthday dinner for my manfriend, I also didn’t want to crash the Caddy. The conversation prompted me to text my manfriend the following message: Dear boy. Do you have a cast iron skillet or one of those skillets that thinks it’s a grill? Do you have a grill? Seconds later he called to report that he did indeed have a grill and would be more than happy to man it with a beer. Problem solved.
We assumed very 1950s gender specific roles as I washed, peeled, chopped, boiled and prepped the meal while he sat on the kitchen floor organizing his tool boxes. Once I popped the crisp into the oven I gave him the signal to light the charcoals. The timing seemed to be working out perfectly. I had this cooking thing in the bag.
At one point I recall thinking the whole situation was quaint. But the act of mashing the potatoes squashed any romantic images I initially envisioned. Especially because I undercooked the potatoes and the only kitchen tool I could use to mash the bastards with was a fork. As my wrists began going numb I realized why women left the kitchen in the first place. And told my new manfriend so.
In the end, I only broke one dish and questioned his barbecuing skills a handful of times. The veggies turned out well enough but my timing fell off and everything wound up being served cold. Including the lumpy mashed potatoes. And the crisp could have used more of the something that makes it taste good. Butter? More sugar?
While I am not going to win any cooking awards any time soon, I am pretty certain the meal was not grounds for dismissal. I think my manfriend is going to keep me around for awhile longer. In the meantime I am going to figure out how exactly one cooks. I think this means I will have to buy a cookbook. And read it. Something also tells me I may need to go grocery shopping. Only I don’t think Betty Crocker shops at Trader Joe’s.